KILLING HIM SOFTLY
Since this is the 25th anniversary of the 1991 economic reforms, former editor and author Sanjaya Baru came out with a book on the subject. But speaking at the launch of 1991: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Made History (Aleph Books), it was clear that P. Chidambaram had come not to praise Narasimha Rao, but to bury him. For if you recall, Chidambaram fell out with Rao and eventually left the Congress only to rejoin once Sonia Gandhi took charge. So, as only a lawyer can, Chidambaram laid out his case, by first praising Rao for his finesse in carrying out the reforms and then added “had Rajiv Gandhi been alive, I have no doubt he’d have become PM. And if he was PM he would have done more or less what Rao did.” But that was not all. Chidambaram also remarked that “this was the book about 1991 and not Rao. About one year that catapulted him to fame. If you write a book about the next year, it will be a very different book. That’s the tragedy of the man.” Not to mention the tragedy that few from the Congress want to claim one of their own simply because he was not a Nehru-Gandhi.
THE HIDDEN MESSAGE
At Sanjaya Baru’s rather eventful and high profile book launch was another former Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha. And here too, we got a glimpse of inner party politics, but this time within the BJP. Sinha, if you’d recall, was also the Finance Minister in Chandrashekar’s United Front government. He narrated a story of how when some Swedish tourists were kidnapped from the Valley (presumably by Pakistan sponsored terrorist groups), Chandrashekar picked up the phone and spoke to then Pak PM Nawaz Sharif. And a few days later the tourists were set free. Similarly, he added, a senior BJP leader’s daughter was kidnapped (he clarified this was not Mufi Mohammad Sayeed’s daughter) and again Chandrashekar picked up the phone, spoke to Sharif and she was released a few days later. Sinha also pointed out that with the support of only 64 MPs, Chandrashekar managed to do this, having met Sharif only once as PM on the sidelines of the UNGA. Now since the launch was not about Chandrashekar or even Pakistan, one does wonder where Sinha was going with that story.
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AN EXTRA DIMENSIONAL QUERY
The MoS for Home, Kiren Rijiju is known for his accessibility and affable smile. Moreover, in keeping with the new rules of engagement, he is very prolific on social media, often responding to citizens’ concerns. But this query proved to be a bit much even for him. He was asked on Twitter to respond to a RTI that wondered, “about the readiness of our government in the event of an invasion by alien zombies and Extra Dimensional Beings. What are our chances against them? And can we do without Will Smith?” Rijiju chose to respond with a simple warning: “The subject matter is too scientific. This kind of RTIs will waste the precious time of the office staffs.”